Portrait of the Artist

Roy Boswell

Machine dreams

By Noelani Kirschner | May 1, 2017
Grey Harvest, oil on canvas, 5.5 X 8.5 inches, 2015
Grey Harvest, oil on canvas, 5.5 X 8.5 inches, 2015


Roy Boswell lives in Bartersville, Indiana, where he paints full time. He travels around the Midwest to gain inspiration for his paintings and is represented by galleries across the region.

“I grew up on a farm in southeastern Indiana. My parents both farm, my big brother farms. I wanted to be a landscape architect, but I liked doing the watercolors for the plans, so that got me going in a creative direction. I wanted to be outside, and I came to find outdoor painting. A decent percentage of my work is done outside. I wouldn’t call them finished paintings, they’re usually just my little studies trying to figure things out and make observations to gain an understanding of things I don’t understand. You can make sense of things by going out and observing them, and going back to the studio and figuring things out. I do like to paint the Midwest; it’s the Garden of Eden, basically.

Everyone is nostalgic for something. I’m not that far removed from the farm, but when I start talking to people who have been away from the farm for a really long time, they have the same draw to it that I have. I don’t know if what I’m doing is romanticizing it or not. This machinery, it’s fascinating because it’s so complex, it’s doing so much work. I don’t remember the exact percentage of people who farm now, but some small percentages of people are doing the farming that feeds the rest of the country. What I do is a complete luxury, and what they do is something that is absolutely necessary. I’m drawn to that.

That piece of machinery, the combine, is huge. When I was growing up, combines were big compared to human beings but these new combines are twice as big as those old ones. They’re fascinating; if you get underneath one and look at it, they’re gigantic. It’s an appreciation for the machinery and what it does. I don’t know if it’s romanticism or nostalgia or what. But I have a great appreciation of what it is and what it does for us.”

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